Keep Calcium in your Bones, not in your Arteries

  • By Healthy Living Liberty Lake
  • 09 Aug, 2016
One of the many things that deteriorate as we age is the health of our skeleton. Having healthy and strong bones is imperative to standing upright, moving freely, and being free of pain. I have so many patients who suffer from chronic pain from their vertebral compression fractures, stooped over, or never quite recover from a hip fracture after a fall.
As we age, we tend to lose minerals and calcium in our bones. Women, especially, after menopause when we lose our protective estrogen, and men as they age and their testosterone declines. But I've seen low bone density in women in their 40s, before menopause, often relating to a poor diet when younger, or taking prednisone.

How do we strengthen our bones? 

Everyone thinks the answer is simple - take calcium! But they would be incorrect. Often, the calcium supplement you take is, instead of making its way to the bones to activate the osteoblasts (bone forming cells), they line your arteries, causing hardening of the arteries. The most commonly sold form of calcium is calcium carbonate, which is very poorly absorbed in the bone. Brand names for calcium carbonate include Maalox, TUMS, Rolaids, Caltate 600, Os-Cal 500, and Mylanta. Citrate, lactate or hydroxyapatite are a much better form.

As you can imagine, your arteries are no place for bone cells! You don't want stiff, hard arteries, but flexible ones that allow for easy circulation.
 
There are critical nutrients needed to increase the calcification of your arteries. These nutrients are vitamin K and D.
Vitamin D deficiency is so common in this area of the country, it's rare when I find a patient with optimal levels. I routinely take 5,000 units in the summer, and 10,000 units per day in the winter. And to be well absorbed, vitamin D should be taken with fat or oil - I take mine with my fish oil - and it should be D3, not D2. The prescription vitamin D that is sometimes prescribed at 50,000 units per week is D2 and not as effective as taking D3. Optimal levels are between 70-90; a minimum of 40 is required for bone health. 

Vitamin D has many other health effects, including boosting the immune system, reducing heart disease, and is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. In one study, researchers looked at patients who had low vitamin D levels, but no indicators of heart disease. They found that the patients' flow-mediated dilation in their arteries, an indicator of arterial health, improved significantly after just three months of monthly injections of 300,000 IU of vitamin D3.

Vitamin K is critical to help calcium and phosphorus bind together new bone. It's also important for cardiovascular disease reduction - a study of nearly 5,000 showed that those with the highest vitamin K2 intakes were 57% less likely to die from heart disease over the course of 7-10 years than those in the lowest third. 

It's very common for older adults to be deficient in vitamin K, particularly because our bodies don't store this nutrient. We have to eat it! You can get it in supplement form, but eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, broccoli, kale, spinach, and brussel sprouts.

Also, don't forget the importance of magnesium, boron, B12 and phosphorus for bone health. A deficiency of any one of these can contribute to osteoporosis as well.

By Dr. Susan Ashley, M.D.
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 12 Jan, 2018
I'm sure everyone has heard by now that we are in the midst of a flu epidemic. Influenza A and B, with many deaths so far and, as as usual, the flu shot has been worthless. At most, the flu shot provides protection 10% of the time. Even less for seniors, those over age 65 who need protection the most. I see influenza patients daily, and at least half of them had the flu shot.

So what can you do to protect yourself from the flu?

First of all, clean up your diet. If you're eating sugar you're suppressing your immune system. Eat a diet that is rich in colorful vegetables and fruits. Lots of berries and citrus fruits, and vegetables that are green, purple, red or orange in color. Notice I didn't say white, like potatoes. A potato is a big lump of sugar. Eat 8 servings daily. "Eight?!!" most people say. It's not as much as you'd think. One grapefruit is 2 servings. A half cup of veges or berries is one serving. A typical salad of mine will have 6 servings right off the bat. Add a handful of spinach in your protein shake in the morning, and some berries. Snack on carrots and cucumbers thruout the day.  
 
Next, take your immune supplements. The most powerful and simple one is vitamin D. Everyone that lives in the great Northwest is low in vitamin D! It is the most important vitamin that we can take for immunity, and it also lowers risk of breast and prostate cancer, heart disease and MS. Get your levels to between 70-90 - that is optimal.    

Other immune supplements that you can take daily to get you thru the flu season include Immuplex or EpiImmune by Standard Process, or Immune Essentials by Xymogen. These have a combination of 1,3/1,6 glucan, olive leaf extract, zinc, vitamin C, and selenium. I take 2 a day during flu season, one a day at other times.    

If you get recurrent colds, think of zinc. Often times a zinc deficiency can lead to a predisposition to colds and flu, along with poor wound healing. At the first onset of a cold or flu, the first 24 hours take Zn acetate 75mg every 2 hours x 6 doses. First 24 hours only, stop it after that point. This may stabilize the cell membrane enough to completely eradicate the illness. For long term, make sure your multivitamin has zinc in it, between 15-45 mg. Men typically need a higher dose. And men, you might also be interested to know that a low zinc causes low testosterone.

Next, get adequate sleep. Without a consistent 7-8 hours of sleep per night, our immunity suffers, making us more vulnerable to colds.    

If you do end up with the flu, start the zinc acetate, and a supplement called Congaplex - 2 caps every 2 hours while awake. This plus extra vitamin C can be very helpful in helping your body fight the illness. And at the same time, avoid sugar completely! Remember, every time you eat sugar it depresses your immune system for up to 4 hours. If you're sick, don't eat sugar. And that includes alcohol, fruit juices and soda.

This should help to keep you healthy and make it through the flu season intact. If you need more help, are ill and want to be checked for influenza, we are also a walk-in clinic and can let you know in 15 minutes whether your symptoms are simply a viral cold or influenza.

By Dr. Susan Ashley, MD
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 28 Dec, 2017
It's almost the new year, and already most of us have made at least one New Year's resolution. And for those that have, 90% of them resolve to be healthier in some way, with weight loss being the number one goal.

The fact is, weight loss is hard. If it were easy, there would be no overweight people in our society. And combining weight loss with a healthier lifestyle can be even harder.

For us ladies, another study has proven what we've all known for years. That it is much easier for men to lose weight than women. Why is that?

Well, one reason is men have more muscle mass, and muscle burns twice as many calories. When men and women are resting, men burn more calories than women, even if they weigh the same.  

Secondly, abdominal fat, which is the most unhealthy type of fat, is released and burned more easily than the fat around the hips and thighs.  And where do women tend to gain weight? The hips and thighs, and this fat comes off much more slowly. It is really quite unfair!

But all is not lost. When it comes to weight loss and eating healthier, many diets have been advertised as the "best" one, but there really is only one that is mentioned time and time again.  This diet is not only the most healthy, but lowers inflammation, reduces risk of heart disease by 80%, diabetes by 90%, and stroke by 70%, reduces arthritis, and helps reduce weight. And that is the Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet is not only delicious, it is a healthy long-term diet - a way of life. It should not just be a short term diet.

The diet is loaded with anti-inflammatory foods, such as:
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables
  • Olive oil - extra dark, cold pressed, glass bottle only
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes and beans
  • Whole grains - but if you need to lose weight, you'll leave these out completely
  • Red meat once weekly
  • High quality poultry, eggs, cheese, and kefir
  • Wild-caught fish
  • Occasional glass of red wine - but not if weight loss is the goal
The diet is delicious and you never feel hungry, or deprived. You'll notice that there are no processed foods, no fast foods, and no sugar other than what is found in fruit and veggies.  

It can be hard to change your diet, especially when you want the change for the long term. Because of that , we are going to help you with this change. Starting in January, our dietitian will be giving a 6-week course on the Mediteranean diet, and 'll be at those classes as well, joining you in our attempt to create healthier, happier, and thinner bodies! Call Healthy Living Liberty Lake to sign up and get more information:   509-924-6199
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 04 Dec, 2017
Flu season is upon us again, and the pressure is on to get your flu shot. Whether its on TV, in your doctor's office, or at every pharmacy and grocery store, you're being warned that the season is going to be bad and you must protect yourself and society by getting your flu shot. It's the same message year after year. But is it true?

Let's look at last year. The flu shot last year was not effective, and only protected about 10% of those that received the vaccine.

Why is that? Well, in order for the flu shot to work, it has to include the exact strains that will be seen that year. The CDC has to guess which strain is going to attack us in the coming year, and most of the time, they guess wrong. Last year, the main strain that affected people was the bug H3N2.

Even though the flu shot last year was designed to include H3N2, an unexpected mutation of the virus occurred during production, making the flu shot ineffective.

This year? The flu shot includes the same mutated H3N2 strain as the one from last year!  

What this means is that if an H3N2 outbreak occurs again, as the CDC has projected, this year's flu shot will not protect you. And the CDC recently admitted that for 4 out of the last 7 years, the flu shot was completely worthless for those 65 and older, the exact age they stress should be getting the shot!

So what do we do? I do not get a flu shot, and I don't give them. Instead, I work on keeping my immune system healthy, with the following:
  • Eating 4+ servings of fruits and veggies daily
  • Sleeping 7-8 hours per night
  • Taking vitamin D-3, 5000-10,000 IU daily
  • Taking a good probiotic daily, with at least 10 billion bacteria, including bifidobacteria
At the first sign of a cold, sniffles, fever or sore throat, start:
  • Zinc Acetate 75mg sublingual lozenge, one every two hours for one day
  • Immune Essentials by Xymogen - has the most effective immune product called 1,3/1,6 beta-glucan that activates the macrophages to kill viruses and bacteria
Stay healthy this year, and don't count on a flu shot to get you there. Take matters into your own hands and employ these common sense measures to protect you from the winter colds and flu.

By Dr. Susan Ashley, M.D.
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